Last week, I was onboard the second sailing to Cuba with Fathom Cruises. Fathom does cruising a little different - they have the focus of social impact travel. Their goal: combine the love of travel with the desire to make a difference.
They currently offer two itineraries: one is social impact through volunteering in the Dominican Republic, and the other includes people-to-people programs in three ports in Cuba - Havana, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba.
For Americans, travel to Cuba must still fall under a special classification. The most common reason for tourism travel is a people-to-people exchange. This means, as a traveler, you should be interacting with the local people and culture. Fathom includes these programs in their itinerary, and they are so fun and easy to do.
Traveling to Cuba via cruise has many benefits that a land tour cannot provide. You unpack only once, and get to enjoy the ease of getting from port to port in a floating hotel. Activities onboard the ship ranged from relaxing by the pool to jamming with local Cuban bands.
Between being on the ship to touring Cuba, I had a great week! Here is my rundown of how everything went…
Day 1: I boarded the ship with ease! The process of check- in, from signing my Cuba affidavit to getting my visa, was seamless. I was on board by 12:30pm to grab lunch and my stateroom was ready by 2pm.
Everyone was on deck around 4pm when we sailed away to the sound of Craze band playing lively tunes. That evening, I attended a lovely cocktail party with some new friends, and after dinner we had a brief orientation about what to expect from our time in Cuba and the tours we would be doing. I even squeezed in a dance class and learned some basic salsa moves!